Safe Flight for Short-nosed Dogs By Melinda Winters |Updated 09-29-2023
Moving to a new city can be an exciting time. While packing and uprooting your entire life, it can be troublesome to arrange transport for your pet.
If your pet happens to be a brachycephalic dog, transportation can become infinitely more complicated. While these pets are certainly a loving companion, their short-nosed respiratory structure can make them prone to certain health conditions.
Although the animal is generally safe and healthy at home, these conditions can be compounded with air travel.
A brachycephalic dog is an animal that has been specially bred over generations to have a shortened nose. Typically, the shortened nose is a designer look for appearances only. Bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, and Boston Terriers are all examples of brachycephalic dogs.
While these animals certainly have an appealing look, the shortened nose can pose many serious health concerns. Having a shorter nose creates a narrow airway and can make breathing difficult.
The soft pallet in these dogs is elongated, and they can often have a narrow opening to the larynx. Further, brachycephalic animals can be at risk for pulmonary hypertension. Brachycephalic dogs can also have several health conditions associated with the shortened nose.
Unfortunately, with the several health conditions brachycephalic dogs are prone to, airline travel can be extremely risky and even deadly. Because of this, airlines enforce extremely strict regulations for short-nosed dogs.
When your pet is sitting at home, breathing normally in a stress-free environment, their breathing is smooth, fluid, and effortless. Sometimes though, if a brachycephalic dog goes into a deep sleep they can have difficulty when they first wake up.
The animal may have trouble breathing initially and often makes a "snoring" type sound as their respiratory system struggles to catch up with the sudden exertion.
This is because their respiratory system does not do well with sudden changes that cause turbulent airflow. On an airplane, this condition can become compounded and complicated.
Additionally, in this type of short-nosed dogs, the mucous membranes can become irritated and stressed. When the membranes are irritated it can cause inflammation.
Eventually, if irritated for enough time, animals can develop obstructive airway disease. To some degree, all brachycephalic animals have some level of obstructive airway disease, but it can become severe with prolonged inflammation. This disease too can be complicated with airline travel.
Further, brachycephalic animals can have a hard time regulating their temperature. Dogs do not have sweat glands and need to pant in order to remove excess heat from their bodies.
Often, dogs that already have an irritated larynx and mucous membrane will have a difficult time panting. This can cause the dog to overheat, develop heatstroke, and potentially die.
Between the stress of an unfamiliar airport, airplane, and multiple people surrounding a carrier a dog can easily become overheated.
Couple this with the very real possibility that your pet may have to fly in the cargo hold and the situation can become very dangerous very quickly.
Airlines impose very strict regulations on travel with short-nosed dogs for the safety and health of the animal. Most airlines will only agree to fly the animals in colder months.
This is to prevent the animal from overheating. With one potential danger eliminated, flying with a brachycephalic animal can become a little safer.
Although a move in winter months is not always possible, it is always advisable to wait until the weather becomes cooler. While it may be inconvenient, it is to protect your dog. Having a safe and healthy pet in a few months is well worth the wait.
Additionally, as the owner, you can take several proactive steps to ensure that your pet will have the safest possible transport. Overweight brachycephalic dogs can have a difficult time breathing due to their weight.
If you are planning air travel, be sure to maintain a healthy weight in your pet. If your pet is overweight, take steps to help your pet through diet and exercise.
The air quality of an airplane can also impact your dog, especially if your pet must ride in a carrier in the cargo hold. Be sure to purchase a crate with as much ventilation as possible to allow your pet to get the most airflow possible.
If you have to relocate to a new area and are a proud owner of a brachycephalic dog, it can be difficult to find safe and effective transport.
Luckily, brachycephalic pet relocation does not have to be complicated with help from an outside service. A company specializing in pet transportation can help set up the safest mode of transportation possible. This ensures that your pet will stay happy, and healthy, on his or her journey to your new home.
A specialized service can also help with logistics, making sure that flights are continuous, and your pet has an escort for every leg of the flight.
Further, having a specialized service help arrange travel for your pet means that the agent understands the restrictions and health concerns surrounding this particular type of animal. The agent will give you sound advice and suggestions for the best time to schedule transport for your pet.
Melinda Winters, a certified dog behavior consultant, has been employed with Ferndale Kennels and Cattery for 6 years. She is passionate about animal care and education, focusing on education surrounding misunderstood dog breeds. When not working with our visiting pets, she enjoys time at home with her two pit bulls, Rocky and Sasha.